5-seed Vols face Long Beach

There should be plenty of runnin' and gunnin' when No. 5 seed Tennessee (22-10) and No. 12 seed Long Beach State (24-7) collide in first-round NCAA Tournament action Friday at Columbus, Ohio.

The Vols and 49ers – part of the South Region – are similar in many ways. For instance:

- Tennessee averages 79.7 points per game, Long Beach 80.3.

- Tennessee allows 74.4 points per game, Long Beach 73.8.

- Tennessee launched 812 shots from 3-point range, Long Beach 707.

- Tennessee made 35.2 percent from 3-point range, Long Beach 36.9 percent.

- Tennesssee committed 467 turnovers but forced a whopping 608. Long Beach committed 432 turnovers but forced 517.

- Tennessee was outrebounded by its opponents. So was Long Beach.

- Tennessee uses a three-guard lineup. So does Long Beach.

- Tennessee's top two scorers are wings Chris Lofton (20.6 ppg) and JaJuan Smith (15.0). Long Beach's top two scorers are wings Aaron Nixon (18.6 ppg) and KeJuan Johnson (15.3).

- Tennessee is small inside with 6-9, 240-pound Wayne Chism and 6-4, 205-pound Dane Bradshaw. Long Beach is small inside with 6-6, 215-pound Sterling Byrd and 6-6, 222-pound Dominique Ricks.

- Tennessee's best shot-blocker is 6-7 sixth-man Duke Crews with 31. Long Beach's best shot-blocker is 6-9 sixth-man Mark Dawson with 29.

The biggest difference between the two teams is experience. Tennessee starts a senior, two juniors and two freshmen, with a freshman sixth man. Long Beach's top six players are all seniors.

Another difference is momentum. Tennessee is coming off a 76-67 overtime loss to LSU in Round 1 of the SEC Tournament. Long Beach is coming off a 94-83 defeat of Cal-Poly in the finals of Big West Conference Tournament. The 49ers have won 22 of their last 25 games after a 2-4 start. They prevailed in 11 of their last 12 games, including the last six in a row.

Friday's other game at Columbus will pit the region's No. 4 seed, Virginia (20-10) against No. 13 seed Albany (23-9).

Two teams Tennessee already played this season – Ohio State and Memphis – are seeded No. 1 and 2 in the South Region. The Vols lost 68-66 at Ohio State on Jan. 13 but trounced Memphis 76-58 in Knoxville on Dec. 6.

The complete South Region is as follows:

1.Ohio State (30-3), 2. Memphis (30-3), 3. Texas A&M (25-6), 4. Virginia (20-10), 5. Tennessee (22-10), 6. Louisville (23-9), 7. Nevada (28-4), 8. Brigham Young (25-8), 9. Xavier (24-8), 10. Creighton (22-10), 11. Stanford (18-12), 12. Long Beach (24-7), 13. Albany (23-9), 14. Penn (22-8), 15. North Texas (23-10), Central Connecticut State (22-11).

Tennessee is one of five SEC teams participating in this year's NCAA Tournaemnt.

Florida (29-5) is seeded No. 1 in the Midwest Region and will play No. 16 seed Jacksonville State (21-13) Friday in New Orleans.

Kentucky (21-11) is seeded No. 8 in the West Region and will face No. 9 seed Villanova (22-10) Friday in Chicago.

Vanderbilt (20-11) is seeded No. 6 in the East Region and will play No. 11 seed George Washington (23-8) Thursday in Sacramento.

Arkansas (21-13) is seeded No. 12 in the East and will play No. 5 Southern Cal (23-11) Friday in Spokane.

The four No. 1 seeds are Florida (Midwest), North Carolina (East), Ohio State (South) and Kansas (West). Tennessee played three of the four this season, splitting home-and-home with the Gators, losing at Ohio State and losing to UNC at the NIT Tipoff Tournament back in November.


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